Little Scraps of Paper
That our baseball souls are being dragged over shards of glass at this most trying time, is something to be relished. The notion that there is grinding of teeth, and fidgeting in our easy chairs to this extent in August, must mean there is something in the works, other than playing out the 162 game schedule.
If the Giants were ten games above five hundred in the American League East, we would not be worrying our little heads about whether or not we could beat the Pirates, because we wouldn't care. Speaking for myself, I had only to hear that the Pirates were on a ten game losing streak, to know there was serious trouble coming into town. That is simply baseball.
You know what else is simply baseball? The D-backs have not been able to take advantage of the Giants' plunge. That doesn't mean it won't start tonight, but the baseball gods have a very peculiar sense of humor, which may seem random. It's not. Look at last year for just a moment. If you were a Padres fan, you watched your team do exactly what the Giants are currently doing-sinking like one of those nasty sliders, flailing at pitches that are down and away.
The Padres were unable to recover in time to salvage their season; they did not have the horses. However, the Giants do have the horses. Though they appear to be on sabbatical out in the pasture, they are very much in the race. In the race? They are leading the herd. We have been expecting that to change, but at this point in time, we are still in first place. Our division features several teams that would appear to have gained strength in the past season, but have been unable to put it together.
If there were any doubt about the residual effects of last year's extended season, those doubts are being buffed up and polished right now, as the naysayers conclude that we are through. I am convinced that not only are we not through, but that the basic problem at this moment is a loss of confidence. This is not the same thing as the loss of Buster Posey or Freddy Sanchez.
We can't get them back until next spring. But Mr. Confidence? He could be back at any time, having been out back with the horses, taking a break. Just let us experience a string of a half-dozen timely hits over a key three-game series, and we will see the Giants gather up their inner forces, and play up to the way we have seen them perform. They no longer have to prove that they are capable-they simply have to prove that last year was not a fluke.
Timmy a fluke? Matt Cain not the real thing? No, we don't have to prove that we have great pitching. Even Charlie Manuel would not make that mistake again-denigrating our pitching staff, or Bochy's ability to play that bullpen the way a violinist plays his instrument. What the Giants must prove is that championship teams do not always feature the most talented players, so much as the players who want to win the most. Last year the Giants were that team, because they had so much to prove.
The Phillies thought that they were best, and were bitterly disappointed to have been stopped. So now they have may have acquired that edge that comes with having the desire to win, the need to win. The Phils have the same motivation that the Giants have, to prove that their World Series victory in 2008, was not a fluke. And they also have some mighty fine pitching.
Who can explain either the Giants' domination over Roy Oswalt, or Cliff Lee's domination over the Giants in regular season play? I can. It's called baseball, where what's on paper and what occurs on the field so frequently differ, because the manual requires that the games be played. And when the games are played, the results are always subject to change.
Well, it's August, and we're grinding our teeth and fidgeting. The Phillies are sitting on the best record in baseball, and salivating over their prospects. The Giants are waiting for a key couple of guys to warm up, which is not an unreasonable expectation. What are the baseball gods doing?
They are sitting around writing preposterous scenarios for different outcomes to Baseball 2011, on little scraps of paper, and tossing them into a big empty Gatorade cooler. When they are done, they will ask one of the resident bat boys to stroll over and select one of the little strips of paper, and that will determine the circumstances and outcome of this year's World Series. That is as good an explanation for how baseball works, as any that you can provide.
Tell me that I'm wrong. Tell me there is some other logical way to explain the past three weeks. More importantly, convince the Giants that there is still plenty of time and plenty of hope. Those baseball gods are pretty creative. Look at last year, and how improbable that was.
Get ready, fans, because the ending has already been determined. Let's just hope that the little scrap of paper that is chosen by that bat boy includes the Giants. Otherwise, it doesn't matter what Sabean, Bochy or the Giants players do, it's out of their hands, and in the hands of some folks who have had a lot more practice at predicting the future than I have, those baseball gods.